Reeva Steenkamp and Oscar Pistorius are pictured together on Jan. 26 in Johannesburg. Pistorius has been charged with murdering Ms. Steenkamp on Feb. 14.
Photograph by: Waldo Swiegers, AFP/Getty Images
VANCOUVER — Items that may grow up to be columns, Vol. XV, Chapter 3:
KEYSTONE KOPS — It’s frankly hard to believe a police investigation could be so thoroughly bungled that what appeared to be an open-and-shut murder case is now entering O.J. Simpson territory.
But that’s what the South African Police Service has managed to make of the case against double-amputee “Blade Runner” Oscar Pistorius in the Feb. 14 shooting death of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, at their Pretoria home.
Sloppy evidence gathering, false statements, a lead investigator, Hilton Botha, whose testimony is blown to bits on the very first day and who is himself up on attempted murder charges ... the story reeks of administrative incompetence and horrible police work, with an undercurrent of cheering for the fallen hero.
None of which necessarily means that Pistorius didn’t kill Steenkamp. It’s just that by the time the defence gets through poking holes in the prosecution’s case, the uncontaminated proof might be as lost as the DNA evidence got in the O.J. case.
L.A. LAW — All it lacks is Johnnie Cochrane and Robert Shapiro and a cricket bat that doesn’t fit, and Pistorius might just walk — on his two prosthetic legs — out of court a free man. This, despite a story so thin (the gun-happy sprinter thought she was a burglar sitting on his toilet and didn’t notice she wasn’t on the other side of his bed before he opened up with 9mm pistol through the bathroom door), you could read an eyechart through it.
TODAY’S NEW RULE — Henceforth, any NHL player with a concussion history must wear a neon-coloured helmet with “Fragile, Handle With Care” stickers on both sides during games. Like the differently coloured no-contact helmets players wear in practice while rehabbing injuries, this will keep vulnerable players exempt from hits of any kind that might jar them unnecessarily during the course of actual games.
CHINA SYNDROME — Speaking of teacups, Marian Hossa has rejoined the Chicago Blackhawks after the swiftest recovery in the history of headaches that are NOT concussions, the result of the Jannik Hansen hit Tuesday.
“Right after, I was shaky. That’s why I didn’t return. I had the day off, so it’s settled down and this morning I felt much better,” Hossa told reporters. “He hit me pretty hard in the back of the head. More than anything, he just surprised me with the punch from behind. I didn’t feel like myself for the first half hour after the hit.”
But it wasn’t a concussion, dammit. Let’s get that straight.
LOWER THE BAR — It’s primarily a perception problem that defenceman Jason Garrison faces with Vancouver Canuck fans. He’s really not bad, just ponderous. Straight from Central Casting, circa 1975. Plenty of good NHL defencemen looked just like this, once. Solid, for the most part. A top-five on just about any team. Just not very quick, and like everyone else, has trouble getting a shot through to the net. Like Keith Ballard, if he were making half his salary, he’d be a steal. It’s the advance portrayal of Garrison as an offensive weapon, especially when he’s surrounded by legitimate puck movers and skaters and risk-takers like Kevin Bieksa and Alex Edler and Ballard — and his $4.6-million annual stipend until 2018, of course — that are going to be hard for him to overcome.
PAGING GORE, AL — PGA, for short. If the former VP is wrong about climate change, you couldn’t prove it by the first few weeks on pro golf’s 2013 calendar.
High winds almost blew away the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Maui, now the first two days of the Accenture Match Play have been interrupted by heavy snow ... in Tucson, Ariz. Optic Orange golf balls, anyone?
If it rains frogs at the Masters in April, no one will be surprised.
RUFF STUFF IN BUFF — Everyone says Lindy Ruff is a heck of a hockey coach, so it must be true. But the Buffalo Sabres have provided so little supporting proof for so long, his firing Wednesday, after more than 15 seasons behind their bench — the high-water mark coming nearly 14 years ago, when they lost the Stanley Cup to Dallas on that disputed Brett Hull goal in Game 6 — was all but inevitable.
Even if the owner is a fan, and the GM is a buddy, excrement runs downhill among the suits. It stops at the players’ level, though. As soon as they tune you out, it’s over, and 20 of them are too hard to fire.
CRY IF YOU WANT TO — Just finished watching one of the most moving, haunting, beautiful messages about bullying, and the lifelong effects it can have, by the Yellowknife-born poet Shane Koyczan, who has written and narrates a powerful animated video called “To This Day.” You can find it on The Vancouver Sun website, or YouTube, and if you’re still dry-eyed when it’s over, I’ll be very surprised.
Koyczan, 36, performed a variation of his “We Are More” poem at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics opening ceremony.
ADDENDA — Houston Rockets’ Jeremy Lin tweeted: “Got my first ever technical last night and lost $2000 … makes me angry when i realize thats 2000 mcchickens or 4000 jack in the box tacos.” Must be those special prices only NBA players get: $1 chicken burgers, 50-cent tacos. Either that or Lin didn’t major in arithmetic ... Oh, good, ESPN confirms it has hired Ray Lewis as a studio analyst. No doubt he’ll specialize in Football And The Law. Always plenty to talk about there, with the NFL. Looking forward to some really coherent sentences … The official score was 2-0, but Barcelona actually only gave up one goal to AC Milan in Wednesday’s Champions League match. The other goal was punishment for wearing that upside-down Tequila Sunrise kit. Wonder if batteries were included with those unis?
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